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Cenla Celebrates ’Kick Butts Day’

Youths from across Central Louisiana will be holding activities Wednesday, March 25, to recognize Kick Butts Day, a nationally recognized day that empowers young people to speak up and take action against tobacco.

Several schools and organizations are sponsoring activities with grant funding provided by The Rapides Foundation's Tobacco Prevention and Control Initiative.

On Kick Butts Day, thousands of young people across the country hold events and activities that call attention to the problems caused by Big Tobacco and its attempts to market to youth. The events are intended to mobilize students to raise awareness about the problems of tobacco use in their schools and communities.

The Rapides Foundation encourages support of Kick Butts Day activities because of their proven effectiveness.

"Educating young people about the dangers of tobacco is an important part of our initiative," said Joe Rosier, president and chief executive officer of The Rapides Foundation. "Statistics show that 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18."

The Foundation has awarded 27 grants totaling more than $350,000 since launching its Tobacco Prevention and Control Initiative in 2008. The initiative's goal is to decrease the number of adults who use tobacco, and to prevent young people from ever starting.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Every day, more than 4,000 kids try their first cigarettes while another 1,000 become addicted smokers.

Central Louisiana schools and organizations that will participate in Kick Butts Day activities are as follows:

Rapides Parish
The Boys and Girls Club of Central Louisiana will hold a Kick Butts Day Carnival from 5-7 p.m. March 25 at 1801 Sylvester St., Alexandria.

The public is encouraged to attend this event, which will include a balloon release and a moment of silence to recognize the 1,200 lives lost nationwide each day from tobacco-related illness. A former smoker will discuss her journey to quit smoking, and the organization's Tobacco Free Youth Leadership members will discuss the dangers of tobacco and how it affects Rapides Parish.

The Kick Butts Day Carnival will consist of booths, including a three-point shootout, a bean-bag toss, tobacco-free drawings and a popcorn machine. Participants will be required to visit all booths to get a free backpack that includes wristbands and information on the dangers of tobacco. Free refreshments include hot dogs, sugar-free cookies, baked chips, Nutri-Grain bars, soft drinks and water.

Catahoula Parish
Block High School in Jonesville will hold its activities throughout the day. Students will participate in a Tobacco Shootout where they write one fact about tobacco products on a banner, collect pledges to be tobacco free, write the name of a loved one lost to tobacco on a Memorial Wall, and tell the tobacco industry to stop targeting youths as "replacement customers." Approximately 280 high school students will participate in the event, which is closed to the general public.

Central High School in Larto will hold its Kick Butts Day activities from 12:30-1:50 p.m. in the school gymnasium and playground areas. About 60 students will participate in a variety of activities, which include placing crosses to represent the people who die each month in Louisiana from tobacco-related illness. Students will paint T-shirts, hear about the dangers of drugs, write on a graffiti wall and learn the truth about "what's in a cigarette." The public is invited to attend.

Harrisonburg Elementary is holding a Kick Butts Day carnival from 1-3 p.m. in the school gymnasium. Approximately 70 students will participate in a variety of anti-tobacco activities including visiting booths with displays about tobacco, a tobacco shoot-out, tobacco dart throw, a balloon release activity, a pledge wall and other fun activities. Students also will participate in the numbers campaign, which recognizes the 1,200 Americans who die each day from tobacco-related illness. The public is invited to attend.

Harrisonburg High School students will gather in the school gymnasium from 2-3 p.m. for an event that includes a Tobacco Shootout, an informational booth on tobacco-related illnesses and refreshments. Students also will sign a pledge wall, pledging to remain tobacco free. This event is closed to the public.

Jonesville Junior High School will have a Kick Butts Day Carnival throughout the day at the school softball field. The carnival will have information booths, pledge walls, games focused on tobacco-free living and food. Approximately 200 students will participate in this public event.

Martin Junior High in Sicily Island will have a Kick Butts Day assembly where participants will learn about the dangers of tobacco products from two students who recently attended a statewide tobacco-free youth rally. After the assembly, students will go to Sicily Island High School to participate in the Kick Butts Day carnival. The Martin Junior High assembly is closed to the public.

Sicily Island High School is holding a Kick Butts Day Carnival from noon until 3 p.m. on campus. Up to 150 students will participate in the event, which includes various basketball activities including a free-throw contest, three-point contest and a game of "Horse." The public is invited.

Allen Parish
Oakdale Middle and High schools will hold Kick Butts Day assemblies on Tuesday, March 24. Students will discuss the dangers of tobacco use and expose the tobacco industry's lies and deceptive marketing tactics. Students also will have a display to represent the 1,200 people in America who die each day from tobacco-related illness.

Oberlin High School students on March 25 will set up a lunch time table display to show some of the 4,000 chemicals that are in tobacco smoke and a Tobacco Graffiti Wall for the students to express how they feel about tobacco. "The tobacco companies make smoking look cool in their ads, but that's nothing but a lie," said Kyle Rodgers, a 17-year-old Defy member at Oberlin High School. "There's nothing cool about bad breath, smelly clothes and tobacco-stained teeth."

Free "quit kits" containing a stress stick, quit booklet, water bottle, candy as well as other items are available to aid individuals who are trying to quit smoking. Everyone who participates in the event will receive educational materials on the dangers and health effects of tobacco use.

Youth advocates get involved
In addition to these events, members of "Nameless," a youth tobacco-advocacy program sponsored by Louisiana Youth Prevention Services under a grant from The Rapides Foundation, will be spearheading Kick Butts Day activities at Pineville High, Plainview High and Simpson High schools. Group members are from Rapides, Grant, Winn, Vernon and Natchitoches parishes.

Members will place posters at their schools to show the ingredients of cigarettes; make public-service announcements about tobacco statistics; hand out bookmarks, pencils and stickers; and put tobacco prevention material in their teacher lounges.
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